We've all heard the objection that political conventions have become empty kabuki theater. The high drama of multiple ballots is dead and gone. Uncertainty about the outcome is no more. "Today," laments political guru Mike Murphy, "delegates are bound through the application of TV ad ratings points, not machine deals. They sit in the convention hall like the background actors in a TV show, milling about to the director's orders, wearing costumes and denied a single line. It seems a shabby ending to a great tradition. It's time for a mercy killing."